Dr. Tom and Wendy teamed up on this week's puzzle. It should not be difficult for solvers to determine which constructor crafted which clues.
At the reveal next week, Dr. Tom will share with you the puzzle's unusual origin story.
Thank you to Al Sisti and Cinny, our test solvers, for their always-helpful advice, and to Joe Ross for his technical assistance.
Given that handicapping difficulty in metas seems to escape us both (and Dr. Tom in particular), we are just going to assign a broad range and be safe. So let's just say this is between a Calico and a Puma and be covered.
A lifeline is defined as a thing on which someone depends or which provides a means of escape from difficult situations. Any of us with animals know that this is almost a perfect definition of our furry friends. Therefore, the answer to this week’s meta is a pet.